SAN ANTONIO — Theresa Ybanez loves her Mission San José Community, it’s been her home for nearly half her life. 

“We always came to the missions, my friends and I rode our bikes to the missions. The missions at the time when I was growing up were not a national parks service yet,” Ybanez explained. 

Now Mission San José, which is on San Antonio’s Southeast Side, is a National Heritage Site and Ybanez says she will do anything to protect that. She currently serves as the president of the Mission San José Neighborhood Association. 

“I think the most important thing to understand is that the Indigenous people, this was their land and they have been disrespected and made an invisible human element of this community for way too long,” Ybanez said. 

So she held a protest recently in front of the visitor center at Mission San José where she gathered signatures from everyone walking by. 

“They want to put the apartments right there where your bus is at. They should sell the land to the national parks so they don’t do that," she said. “Tourists come and they want an authentic experience they don’t need damn apartments next to their experience. They want to see and feel like it was the 1700s and it’s also saying something about our city that we honor that space,” Ybanez said. 

She gathered many signatures in the two days she was out there and she plans to present her petition to city council in the near future. 

“We want the city to do something how they are not living up to their promise they gave to UNESCO for a world heritage designation,” Ybanez said. 

Ybanez says there is a compromise in all this that can benefit everyone, but she say’s it must honor the Indigenous people and the decendents, who roamed this area way before this mission was here. 

“More beautiful landscaping, and maybe a little tiny community center where the Indigenous families can go and have education workshops. That’s what we would like to see,” Ybanez said.